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The Lessons We Should Teach

Souyenne DathorneTHE standard lessons are often directed at our daughters. Don’t go up to or out with the strange man, don’t let him touch you between there or on top here, don’t wear revealing clothing, etc.

We talk vaguely to our daughters about a specific kind of threat lurking around. We warn them off the random attacker but fail to let them know the people they should be most wary of are those closest to them. We warn our daughters to look out for the boogie-man, but fail to warn our boys about those same predators. We also fail at teaching our boys not to become those perpetrators. We are constantly telling our girls what they should do to not get raped; knowing this never saves them. We don’t tell our boys about respecting a woman, about listening to what she says, we effectively don’t teach them not to rape. Education is needed in every aspect if we are to combat sexual violence effectively.

It is often the person they least expect to violate them who will. We talk around intimacy and sex but not about it. For some strange reason we all seem to be very shy and uncomfortable broaching the issue. Our children are way past us in their knowledge; they are being taught by their peers, by the media, by the older family friends and relatives who will steal their innocence AND VIOLATE THEM. We have to learn to feel comfortable speaking about sexual issues as they will arise, sexuality is a part of their lives.

We need to equip our boys and girls with the knowledge they need to stand firm. Say No, I don’t like what you’re doing to me, this is wrong, you are lying, my mommy would never be mad if I told you No. I know what you are trying to do to me; Mommy and Daddy said this is wrong and I can tell them; they will believe me.

We need to ensure that our children feel safe and secure to approach us when they have been victimized. We need to give them the tools that empower them with knowledge; they need to know that an older man coercing them, forcing them into any sexual act is wrong. They need to know they can say no, no matter the age, relationship or occupation of their abuser. They need to know that by saying NO they have your support. Too often, they remain silent because they were told that you, their parent, would be upset; too often they don’t understand fully they are being victimized. They understand many times that what is happening is wrong, it doesn’t feel right but without the actual knowledge they have nothing to fall back on. The clichéd phrase; “Knowledge is power” comes to mind when we sit and analyze the state of sexual education and its repercussions on island.

Education is not only to protect them from becoming victims but to help them refrain from becoming perpetrators. The more we read and speak with people the more we understand that the excuse of the ambiguity of actions is a huge problem. When I say ambiguity of actions I mean that believing you’re entitled to sexual intercourse if a woman/man flirts with you, kisses you or even starts having sexual intercourse. Ambiguity that becomes an issue when one feels that if one is intoxicated or in any other way inebriated that this is an invitation for free sexual intercourse. The myths that say that what she was wearing, her occupation, or the fact that she went out with you or invited you in, gives you the right to take what you want when you want. I want my fellow St. Lucian men and women and boys and girls to be better educated on their rights, on the types of sexual violence and on what agencies are out there to help them on their healing journey.

Please contact us at PROSAF for any information you need. Or if you want a listening ear, we are out there to help. Anyone interested in volunteering as a victim advocate please contact us via the information provided below. April is Sexual Awareness and Prevention Month, let’s use this month to make a change, to make a start.

We can be contact by via the information below: Email:ssaitco@hotmail.com-thepowerofone_v@hotmail.com

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